During a hearing Wednesday with the Senate Judiciary Committee former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates slammed former FBI director James Comey saying that when he authorized the surprise White House interview with then national security adviser Michael Flynn in January 2017, it was done without her authorization.
Yates told the Senate panel that she was upset when she discovered that Comey had sent FBI agents without her knowledge.
At the time, it didn’t seem to matter to Comey, who was subsequently fired from the FBI by President Donald Trump. In fact, Comey had bragged about the unconventional way he sent his agents to conduct a surprise interview with Flynn at the White House, it is “something we, I probably wouldn’t have done or gotten away with in a more organized investigation — a more organized administration.”
Yates also stunned the panel when she revealed that she first learned Flynn was being investigated by the FBI from President Barack Obama during an Oval Office meeting on Jan 5, 2017. Yates noted she was”irritated” by Comey’s failure to keep her in the loop and operate on his own.
Graham has long told this reporter that the Jan. 5, 2017 meeting is of interest to the investigation. In attendance at the meeting was Obama, Comey, then Vice President Joe Biden, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, then-CIA Director John Brennan and then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Graham wanted to know why Obama knew about Flynn’s conversations before Yates did. Graham’s concerns, then and now, are based on the long tumultuous history between Obama and Flynn during the last years of his tenure. That, coupled with mounting evidence that the FBI continued to pursue Flynn and members of Trump’s team based on no evidence or falsified evidence.
Flynn, who was the director of the Defense Intelligence agency during the Obama administration, had confronted Obama on his failure to adequately inform the American people about the growing threat of terrorist organizations. Moreover, Flynn had vehemently disagreed with Obama’s Iran policy and was eventually fired by Obama from his position at the DIA.
Yates, however, said that Obama was aware of the Flynn calls at the time because “the purpose of this meeting was for the president to find out whether – based on the calls between Ambassador Kislyak and Gen. Flynn – the transition team needed to be careful about what it was sharing with Gen. Flynn.”
She went onto say that the White House meeting was not about influencing the FBI probe.
Yates Statement Before Senate
Yates: “I was upset that Director Comey didn’t coordinate that with us and acted unilaterally.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham: “Did Comey go rogue?”
Yates: “You could use that term, yes.”
Yates was also angry that the agents sent by Comey – Special Agent Peter Strzok and Special Agent Joe Pientka – did not inform Flynn that they were in possession of the conversations he had with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during December, 2016. Testimony and information obtained during numerous congressional and DOJ Inspector General investigations reveals that the agents appeared to attempt to entrap Flynn. Ironically, Flynn was so open about his conversation and many other topics that the agents returned to FBI headquarters believing the three-star general did not lie to them.
However, that didn’t stop Strzok, the lead agent, from continuing to pursue an unsubstantiated case against Flynn that was not predicated on any real tangible evidence. In fact, the FBI by January, 2017 had issued an internal classified memorandum that revealed that the bureau had no derogatory information on Flynn, nor anyone associated with him.
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Biden Administration Proposes Rule to Fortify Federal Bureaucracy Against Republican Presidency
In a strategic move, the Biden administration has unveiled a proposed rule aimed at reinforcing the left-leaning federal bureaucracy, potentially hindering future conservative policy implementations by Republican presidents. This move has raised concerns about the efficacy of democratic elections when a deep-seated bureaucracy remains largely unchanged, regardless of electoral outcomes.
Key points of the situation include:
Presidential Appointees vs. Career Bureaucrats: Of the 2.2 million federal civil workers, only 4,000 are presidential appointees. The vast majority, made up of career bureaucrats, continue in their roles from one administration to the next. This continuity is facilitated by rules that make it exceedingly difficult to discipline or replace them, resulting in a bureaucracy that tends to lean left politically.
Union Political Affiliation: A striking 95% of unionized federal employees who donate to political candidates support Democrats, according to Open Secrets, with only 5% favoring Republicans. This significant political skew among federal workers raises questions about the potential for political bias in the execution of government policies.
Obstructionism and Challenges for GOP Presidents: Some career bureaucrats have been accused of obstructing Republican presidents’ agendas, leading to policy delays and challenges. For example, during the Trump administration, career lawyers in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division declined to challenge Yale University’s discrimination against Asian American applicants, prompting Trump to seek legal counsel from other divisions. The case was subsequently dropped when Joe Biden took office.
Biden’s Countermeasures: President Biden has taken steps to protect the bureaucracy’s status quo. In October 2020, Trump issued an executive order aiming to reclassify federal workers who make policy as at-will employees, but Biden canceled it upon taking office.
Proposed Rule and Congressional Actions: The rule unveiled by the Biden administration seeks to further impede a president’s ability to reinstate Trump’s order. Additionally, some Democrats in Congress are pushing to eliminate the president’s authority to reclassify jobs entirely. This has been referred to as an attempt to “Trump-proof the federal workforce.”
Republican Candidates’ Pledge: GOP candidates such as President Donald J Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Ron DeSantis have pledged to address this issue. According to reports from Fox News, Ramaswamy has gone further, advocating for the elimination of half or more of civil service positions, emphasizing the need for accountability.
Debate on the Merit of the Civil Service: While Democrats and their media allies argue that civil service protects merit over patronage, critics contend that the system has evolved into a form of job security for federal workers with minimal accountability. Federal employees often receive higher salaries and more substantial benefits than their private-sector counterparts.
In summary, the Biden administration’s proposed rule and broader actions to protect the federal bureaucracy have sparked a debate over the role of career bureaucrats in shaping government policy.
Republican candidates are vowing to address these concerns, highlighting the need for accountability and ensuring that government agencies work in alignment with the elected president’s agenda. This ongoing debate raises important questions about the relationship between the bureaucracy and the democratic process in the United States.
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